February 04, 2021
By Mike Fletcher

Struggling to encourage innovation, productivity and engagement through your virtual event programme? Why not add a dopamine-inducing element, tried and tested by educators, scientists and trainers worldwide - tap into the principles of gamification.

Gamification is the process of creating game-like systems around content, whether that be by creating teams, rewarding points for tasks, or tracking completion. 

In the physical world, incentivising attendees to attend conference sessions by rewarding points, promoting learning by engaging with content through play, or creating competitive scenarios to help facilitate better networking, are all irreplaceable live engagement strategies. 

Nevertheless, an advantage of the move to online events is the ability to build in digital elements such as mobile app features and social media, which in turn can bring increased traction to your event. 

Virtual gamification also breaks-up the monotony of staring at a screen and because it works on the principle of rewards and reinforcement, planners can get really creative or turn to sponsors to provide prizes. 

Virtual event gamification benefits:

  • It increases audience engagement
  • It maximises learning as your audience is paying more attention
  • Gamification promotes networking, which in B2B is crucial
  • Your sponsors will get more return on investment
  • It will enlarge your brand exposure on social media
  • Audience satisfaction will increase

Here’s a few things to consider when building gamification into your virtual or hybrid event plans

Focus on the event goals

A game or contest should be relevant to the overall event objectives


It’s important to understand exactly what you want to get out of incorporating gamification elements into a virtual event so that challenges don’t come across as trivial. 

A game or contest should be relevant to the overall objectives so that it organically fits into your event design. Adding competition and reward can drive social sharing, encourage team development, increase brand interaction or provide sponsors or exhibitors with greater value. 

Choose your game creative wisely

Drive team building and problem solving with interactive online activities

Interactive activities such as virtual escape rooms or scavenger hunts to find hidden items are geared towards team building and problem solving. Whilst encouraging competitiveness by having a virtual leader board offers the reward of feeling more connected to other online attendees. 

Start by rewarding attendees for what they already do, such as checking in. Then funnel that excitement toward challenges that drive sponsor engagement, survey participation, session attendance, and other ROI-positive behaviours. 

After opening the event, a notification could inform a virtual delegate that they have already earned points, along with a hint of the next action they need to complete to earn more points for a higher place on the virtual leaderboard.

This gives them the motivation to keep interacting with the platform and keep earning points for more chances to win rewards and prizes.

Game creative ideas can include:

  • Virtual escape rooms: Online escape rooms encourage individuals to work together so they are great for promoting teamwork and networking.
  • Virtual scavenger hunt: At a physical event, a scavenger hunt can increase attendee engagement with exhibitor booths. It can work similarly at a virtual event. Create a list of items that attendees need to find on the virtual trade show floor or a list of key words and ‘bingo’ phrases attendees can collect during the conference programme. 
  • Polls: Polls can provide planners with valuable information. Encourage people to take the polls by rewarding points for each one taken. The more polls, the more points, and at the end of the event, the most points wins

Communicate the rules 

Provide clear, well-thought-out instructions on the rules of the game

Provide clear, well-thought-out instructions so that people know exactly how to engage with the event game from the outset.

It’s also a good idea to add prizes or rewards to the rules so there’s no confusion about what’s being offered for winning or participating in the game. 

Get exhibitors and sponsors involved in your prizes. It is likely that they would be happy to donate a gift or pay for the rights to put their name on the contest.

This sponsorship or donation can then be used to put together some sort of prize package. 

If there’s multiple event partners, get them to sponsor different rewards for different stages of task completion or points accumulation. It will motivate your attendees to reach for higher levels through deeper engagement with your event content. 

Track participation

Track attendee behaviour and gain greater insights into your virtual event

Event gamification requires the audience to interact with the event app or platform. This means you can track attendee behaviour and gain greater insights into which elements of your event are the most successful.

Identifying these elements, and understanding how the attendees move through the virtual event space can help you improve any future online events that you may be planning.

It will also help you set engagement benchmarks, which in turn will help you create future sponsorship packages and provide more accurate data on what event partners can expect from audience interaction. 

For more insights on leveraging gamification for virtual attendees, check out this Cvent podcast featuring Cindy Lo, CEO of Red Velvet Events

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.
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